The Andrews Labor Government is undertaking an ambitious reform project to shape the long-term future of the support service system for vulnerable children and families.
Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said the Roadmap for Reform: Strong Families, Safe Children would be driven by evidence and expert advice, working closely with the community services sector.
It will build on the Labor Government’s record $257 million funding boost to child protection and family services in the 2015–16 Victorian State Budget – including for early intervention services, more child protection workers and improving the out-of-home care system.
The Roadmap will look at services and programs with the aim of: intervening early to prevent abuse; and in cases where children and young people cannot live safely with their own parents, ensuring the out-of-home care system is as good as it can be and has an emphasis on home-based care.
It will consider how to achieve reunification of children with their parents where it is safe to do so.
This work comes as there is a surge in growth in child protection notifications. The Auditor-General has highlighted that the number of children in out-of-home care over the past decade had grown by 60 per cent.
That office has also reported on the increasing complexity of cases coming into the system.
In response to recommendations in the Auditor-General’s recent report Early Intervention Services for Vulnerable Children, the Roadmap will include a review of early intervention and support services for vulnerable children and families.
Consultation with service partners and users of the service system is planned to take place in September with additional input available throughout the process.
Deloitte has been appointed to resource the Roadmap project, bringing significant social policy and economic modelling expertise. The project will be guided by an expert advisory group comprised of leaders from the early childhood sector, child and family support services, academia and commerce.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“This year’s budget provided the biggest boost in a decade for child protection and family services, but these issues run deeper than money – we need to examine our service delivery from the ground up to achieve better outcomes for children.”
“We must look at future demand for services and ensure we have a system that can effectively respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families.”
“We will work closely with the sector to ensure we make the children and family services system robust and sustainable.”